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The HR expert: How to adapt to the digital workplace

What changes will we see in the workplace and the way we work? We have talked to Tommie Cau, an HR expert, speaker and advisor, about what we can expect of the future work life and how companies can adapt to succeed with the new normal, and digital, workplace.

Tommie Cau, HR expert

This article was first published on our Norwegian blog and you can read the original article here (link to Norwegian article).  

How can your company adapt to the digital workplace?

How can companies successfully navigate the new reality? According to HR expert Tommie Cau, it’s important not to plan too far ahead, at least not in the nearest future. 

Recent times have shown that we can not rely on too many long-term plans. We have had to act fast, and also seen that this approach can work well. It no longer works to set five-year plans, we need pilots and we need to test things. 

This means that there is a stronger demand for structure and management, and finding a strategy that works in this new normal. It is also more important to be open to adjustments and changes to the strategy over time. 

Also read: The future of the digital workplace.

Flexibility is the key component of the future workplace

So, what does the HR expert believe the future look like in terms of work-life and workplace?

– Flexibility is what everyone is talking about, and different workplaces are trying to figure out how to adapt to this new normal. However, with more flexibility and freedom also comes more responsibility. The work-life is becoming more individualistic and providing more responsibilities for each person.

These rapid changes have also kickstarted other processes, including a more pressing need for new competence. The result of this has been more temporary works, also known as “gigs”. 

– Companies are now looking for expertise in completely new places. The development we have seen with the “gig” economy has been pushed forward in recent months. It is a component that runs faster and will become dominant in the working life of the future.

So, what specific steps can companies take then, besides being flexible, to adjust to the new digital workplace?

4 steps to adjusting to the new normal 

1) Ask yourself: What competencies do we need?

Cau believes that the need for competence also changes: 

– Now, the job roles become broader, and there is a requirement for more versatile competence. 

Organisations must ask themselves what competencies they need, both soon and within the next five years. Then, they need to look at how they can satisfy these competence needs. Considering almost all companies are faced with the same challenge, there will continue to be a great demand for these talents. 

– There is a great competition, and everyone cannot do the same thing. The way I see it, there are four different ways of changing competence: recruiting new competencies, developing competencies internally, acquiring companies to get new competencies, or temporarily hiring freelancers or employees. 

You might also be interested in listening to our podcast episode about ‘Reboarding: Our way back to the new normal’.

2) Build a strong employer brand

This requires a strong employer brand and fast recruitment processes. Many companies have worked with this long-term and already have a strategy in place.

– Some even have teams whose task is to look at trends in future work, either internally or in close collaboration with other companies. If you have not addressed this challenge in the last 18 months, you are lagging behind. 

Tommie – and many others – believe that it will be an employee’s market in the future as well.

– I also think that we will see a so-called “great resignation”, where more and more people resign. For a long time, we’ve had low mobility and now there is a great need for talent again. Some may have become tired of the way the organisation has chosen to handle the pandemic. In the future, we may see the next wave, depending on what decisions organisations make about whether or not to continue to allow home offices.

It’s clear that the pandemic has changed the demands, needs, and drive of employees. Now, there is a demand for other things than we’ve seen before. 

Candidates will choose employers who give them the life they want. Linked to this is another requirement, namely an increased interest in working for the “right” purpose, where more people ask themselves the question: why do you work with what you do.

This also means that many employees now are questioning companies’ higher purpose, their “why”, and how they contribute positively to society. Companies that want to remain relevant, make sure that their purpose, values and missions are clear, Tommie believes.

Also read: — This is what digitalisation is really about

3) Facilitate for continuous learning and development also in the home office

– Most of us aren’t used to the increased flexibility in working remotely, which can be a challenge. The next step in this development is about finding the format that works and letting people find themselves in this new hybrid environment. 

Cau explains that the next phase is more about continuous learning and development. How do we ensure that everyone is involved in their development when each person must take more responsibility for their workday?

– We have talked a lot about learning, upskilling, and reskilling already before the pandemic. However, the last two years have forced many to digitise their processes, products and services even faster. Then, the need for new skills and learning also increases. 

Another major challenge for managers in the future is to take greater responsibility for employee well-being.

Come as you are and become who you want to be. That is a good motto to follow. As an employer, you should not only make your employees feel good but also help them achieve their goals.

You might also be interested in reading: Øystein Moan: – We see a new level of willingness to change and adapt

4) Have more productive meetings

On a global level, companies have upgraded their digital abilities. However, the general knowledge is still relatively poor. 

– Most of us have learned the basics when it comes to remote work and meetings–we understand how to connect to a meeting from home. The question now is: How do we run meetings, and how good are we at it? Are we able to run productive meetings while at the same time maintaining creativity and cohesion in the workplace?

Today, there is a major gap here, says Cau. In the future, companies should focus on closing these gaps. To succeed at adjusting to the new normal and digital workplace, we also need to accept the insecurity. 

– We tend to organise and structure everything. Now, we have to become comfortable with accepting that we won’t always have a clear plan. 

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